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Medieval churchyard cross in Callington churchyard

A Scheduled Monument in Callington, Cornwall

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Latitude: 50.5034 / 50°30'12"N

Longitude: -4.3159 / 4°18'57"W

OS Eastings: 235868.112

OS Northings: 69627.666

OS Grid: SX358696

Mapcode National: GBR NN.KM81

Mapcode Global: FRA 17VQ.NFN

Entry Name: Medieval churchyard cross in Callington churchyard

Scheduled Date: 29 April 1959

Last Amended: 21 December 1995

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1014017

English Heritage Legacy ID: 26252

County: Cornwall

Civil Parish: Callington

Built-Up Area: Callington

Traditional County: Cornwall

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Cornwall

Church of England Parish: Callington

Church of England Diocese: Truro


The monument includes a medieval churchyard cross in Callington churchyard in
south east Cornwall.

The Callington churchyard cross survives as a composite of two former medieval
crosses: the head of one cross is set on the shaft and base of another. The
granite lantern head (so called because the shape of the rectangular head is
of a similar shape to a lantern), is set on an octagonal shaft and base. The
overall height of the monument is 2.82m. The head measures 0.87m high. The
principal faces are orientated north east-south west. The head is elaborately
decorated with sculpted figures set within canopies topped with pointed
arches. The top of the head rises towards a point in the centre and the eroded
remains of elaborate pinnacles adorn each corner. On the north east face there
is a crucifixion scene, a figure of Christ hanging from the cross. On the
south east face there is a bishop, on the south west face a Madonna, and on
the north west face a Virgin and Child. The four corners of the head form
moulded edges to the canopies, and the base of the head slopes upwards from
the shaft to form a `v'shaped base to the canopies, below the figures. The
elaborate decoration is worn and parts of the top of the head and sides of the
canopies have been fractured in the past. The head is set at a slight angle on
to an octagonal-section granite shaft with a cemented join. The shaft measures
1.63m high, and is square at the base, which measures 0.42m wide and 0.27m
thick. The octagonal sides each measure 0.16m wide, except for two sides which
measure 0.21m on the north east and south west faces. The north, east, south
and west sides of the shaft slope out 0.27m above the base, to form the square
section moulded foot. The shaft is set in an octagonal granite base with a
rounded moulding along its upper edge. Below the moulding the base slopes down
to meet its outer edge. The base measures 1.04m north west-south east by 0.91m
north east-south west, and is 0.32m high. The top of the base on the north
west side has an extensive cement repair.

The shaft and base have survived in their original position though surmounted
by a cross-head from another cross, probably the head of the churchyard cross.
The cross-head may have been added to the shaft around 1951.

The site of the monument is shown on the attached map extract.
It includes a 2 metre boundary around the archaeological features,
considered to be essential for the monument's support and preservation.

Source: Historic England

Reasons for Scheduling

A standing cross is a free standing upright structure, usually of stone,
mostly erected during the medieval period (mid 10th to mid 16th centuries AD).
Standing crosses served a variety of functions. In churchyards they served as
stations for outdoor processions, particularly in the observance of Palm
Sunday. Elsewhere, standing crosses were used within settlements as places for
preaching, public proclamation and penance, as well as defining rights of
sanctuary. Standing crosses were also employed to mark boundaries between
parishes, property, or settlements. A few crosses were erected to commemorate
battles. Some crosses were linked to particular saints, whose support and
protection their presence would have helped to invoke. Crosses in market
places may have helped to validate transactions. After the Reformation, some
crosses continued in use as foci for municipal or borough ceremonies, for
example as places for official proclamations and announcements; some were the
scenes of games or recreational activity.
Standing crosses were distributed throughout England and are thought to have
numbered in excess of 12,000. However, their survival since the Reformation
has been variable, being much affected by local conditions, attitudes and
religious sentiment. In particular, many cross-heads were destroyed by
iconoclasts during the 16th and 17th centuries. Less than 2,000 medieval
standing crosses, with or without cross-heads, are now thought to exist. The
oldest and most basic form of standing cross is the monolith, a stone shaft
often set directly in the ground without a base. The most common form is the
stepped cross, in which the shaft is set in a socket stone and raised upon a
flight of steps; this type of cross remained current from the 11th to 12th
centuries until after the Reformation. Where the cross-head survives it may
take a variety of forms, from a lantern-like structure to a crucifix; the more
elaborate examples date from the 15th century. Much less common than stepped
crosses are spire-shaped crosses, often composed of three or four receding
stages with elaborate architectural decoration and/or sculptured figures; the
most famous of these include the Eleanor crosses, erected by Edward I at the
stopping places of the funeral cortege of his wife, who died in 1290. Also
uncommon are the preaching crosses which were built in public places from the
13th century, typically in the cemeteries of religious communities and
cathedrals, market places and wide thoroughfares; they include a stepped base,
buttresses supporting a vaulted canopy, in turn carrying either a shaft and
head or a pinnacled spire. Standing crosses contribute significantly to our
understanding of medieval customs, both secular and religious, and to our
knowledge of medieval parishes and settlement patterns. All crosses which
survive as standing monuments, especially those which stand in or near their
original location, are considered worthy of protection.

The Callington churchyard cross has survived well and is a good example of a
lantern cross, a rare form of churchyard cross in Cornwall. The elaborate
cross-head is probably part of the original churchyard cross. The cross head
is still functioning as a churchyard cross, though not on its original shaft
and base.

Source: Historic England


Consulted 1995, Cornwall SMR entry for PRN 6800.03,
Title: 1:25000 Ordnance Survey Map; SX 26/36; Pathfinder Series 1348
Source Date: 1983

Title: Ordnance Survey 1:25000 Map; SX 26/36; Pathfinder Series 1348
Source Date: 1983

Source: Historic England

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